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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frankfurt, Germany


Today is the day; after two and a half months in Granada it's time to leave for Germany. Something to bare in mind when matching your ticket to your flight is that sometimes one airline will use another airline. Not to worry, if this is the case it will be noted at the bottom of your ticket, "Operated by SPANAIR Flight Nbr JK6623." It's good to look your ticket over for this information so you're not looking for "Lufthansa Airlines Flight LH6715" because, well, it's kind of hard to find a flight that doesn't exist! 

In Barcelona the connection to Frankfurt was delayed until 5p… on the upside this provided time for making  friends with another American from California. After finally arriving at the Frankfurt airport there was the fun experience of purchasing a metro ticket from an automated machine with options written in German. Fortunately, there is always someone in line who speaks both languages. Finally in Frankfurt the first thing to do after checking in at the hostel is find a decent Kebap and German beer… or so one might think. Frankfurt is a very international city and, having once been occupied mostly by Americans, it is probably safe to assume that it is more Americana than not.  The food is all Asian, Pakistani, etc. and finding anything remotely German takes a bit of searching. Fortunately, the back streets generally have some hole in the wall shops where one can find a reasonably priced Kebap and a beer with some good company.
Frankfurt: The City of Skyscrapers

The hostel was not the best investment considering the circumstances. After getting back late there wasn't really any time to sleep before returning to the airport. Back at the station with some time to kill, a few croissants as recommended by the hostel, sounded like a good idea and would leave just enough to buy another ticket for the metro... but the metro wasn't running until much later. The train was coming soon, but it costs more than the metro because it goes further. A guy from Turkey was also in a pinch; he worked at the airport de-icing planes and was late. After talking for a bit he explained that the airport is only the first ten minutes of the two hour train ride and that they don't check passengers until much later. This made things very simple - hop the train or miss the flight. 

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Central Station)
During the short ride a German passenger explained something about Germany which resounded on a global scale. He explained that it's hard to find a good representation of Germany, even Munich being Bavarian is not a very good representation of German culture. This is actually true with any tourist destination - if you want something unique, you have to go off the beaten path. For example, the Wadden Sea of Northern Germany is one of the only seas in the world that recedes enough for you to walk out along the bottom. 
Waiting in line back at the airport a couple other Americans told me about their travels in the army. Apparently they found a loophole allowing them to get paid doing music gigs throughout Europe! 
Frankfurt Am Main Airport
In Chicago the cargo door was frozen shut so baggage took a while to arrive. The nice thing is that immediately after clearing customs in Chicago/O'hare, United Airlines, as well as a few other airlines, have a convenient hub for dumping off baggage so you don't have to lug it to the domestic re-check area. Note, this process can be a bit hectic and the attendants scanning your bags might, for example, mix up your flight and tell you that you missed it and then grab your bag and throw it on some random conveyor belt... but rest assured, they have everything under control!
Back in Seattle all the luggage came through as expected and after calling for a ride home, on a cell that still had its charge from four and half months earlier, it was time to go home. 

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